LE LIVINGSTONE: AGGRESSIVE AND RUDE - COTONOU
I had read about this place as being an ex-pat heaven in the middle of an ex-pat area and decided I would go for a beer and maybe eat here. I wish I had not. I pulled up on my motorcycle taxi to see a packed outside terrace at the front. I made my way inside for a beer and a seat. After a long period of trying 3 different ladies to order a beer- I sat down with my nice Flag beer. That's when it all went wrong. I snapped 2 pictures of the bar and then one of my beer in front of a little gnome character in a funny uniform.
"What are you doing!?"
"Why are you taking pictures!?"
I never want to see a man that big and that angry ever come running at me in any situation for the rest of my life. I honestly thought he might do me or my camera (or both) harm. I made the mistake of being shocked and silent and this seem to make the big man more angry. It took me a few seconds to even connect him with the restaurant. When I tried to explain he let his facial expressions know I was very unwelcome. He watched me until I finished my beer and left.
I find it hard to believe that no one ever celebrated a birthday or had a night out in this place with a flash camera before. I have been treated better by armed guards after taking an accidental picture of a Presidential Palace before.
This was the only aggression I ever had in Benin. All the other businesses I went into were very nice. Some even posed with my VT flag.
So if you are a Tourist - please find somewhere else. Its shocking that any establishment serving customers would become angry because a customer took a photo of the beer they just pai
I didn't even get a menu!Related to:
- Food and Dining
- Beer Tasting
- Family Travel
LES TROIS MOUSQUETAIRES: PARANOID IN COTONOU
I decided I would splurge a little with my money and dine at what my guidebook said was an excellent restaurant. The book told me to make reservations, so I walked there to see the restaurant and hopefully make a reservation. The gate was open so I walked towards the entrance up some stairs. As I began to look down at the small garden they had - 2 men appeared and began to absolutely go ballistic. They were both shouting at me aggressively and let me know in with angry voices and hand gestures that I was to leave immediately. I really thought the larger of the 2 was going to grab me as I walked back outside the gate. When I turned around to try and ask a question - they just kept up the abuse.
So I went to another - friendly - restaurant and had a great meal.
Sorry, but I would recommend that any and all tourists avoid this place. They just don't get it.
If you really want to know:
They are open Tuesday to Saturday from 11:00 - 15:00 and 19:00 - 22:30 and 19:00 - 22:30 Monday. You have to spend a minimum of 14 000 FCFA! Reservations recommended.Related to:
- Business Travel
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- Food and Dining
PILI PILI: A VERY GOOD MEAL - COTONOU
My guidebook said this was a good restaurant and I must say I had a nice meal. The surroundings are an airy tastefully decorated, open area with some nice ceiling fans. The temperature was exactly right. The service was friendly and I was given a nice dish of popcorn and peanuts while I waited for my food. A nice cold Flag beer arrived and I managed a few postcards while my dinner was prepared.
My starter, a mixed tuna salad, was fresh and tasty. I ordered the Poulet Yassa, having absolutely no idea what it was. What a great choice! This is a chicken dish from Senegal. It is made by marinating the chicken with onions and lemon or lime (lime in this case). The chicken itself was a little on the thin side, but reflect the local chickens I guess. Once I had it off the bone and mixed with my rice I was amazed at just how good it was. They also have a good wine selection and several desserts made from local fruit. Main meals are around 4700CFA (7€, $9).
All in all, a nice meal.
They are open for lunch and dinner.
Please note: If your motorcycle taxi does not know the restaurant, ride with another. Its down a side street. My driver took me straight there for 250CFA.
A niced mixed salad with tuna to start. Poulet Yassa with rice for a main meal. All washed down with some Flag beer.Related to:
- Women's Travel
- Food and Dining
Le Livingstone: Ex-Pat Place in Cotonou
Want to find some comfort in Cotonou? Head over to Livingstone's in Haie Vie. Near the airport and Novotel Hotel is a little slice of home in Benin. We only had drinks there but heard the food was good. There are peddler's trying to sell their goods while you dine/drink but when you said no, they moved on. Not a big deal. Safe area at night and many bars and restaurants down the street as well. Tell Leticia, the cutest gal with the best service there that we said hello. And she said she's from Togo. And their bathrooms were good, too.Add to your Trip Planner
Thai Thanh II: Thai in Cotonou
Who would think that Thai would be good in Benin. Yummy. Thai owner. No one speaks much English here so get your pointing finger and smiles out. We had 2 beers, crab fritters, rice, curry chicken for 12,000 cfa's. Service was okay. I think they were intimidated by our "American" presence as were we. Just smile and fake it. That will go a long way.Add to your Trip Planner
Royal Garden: Indian in Cotonou
Formerly named Indiana... not sure why. Being from Indiana in the U.S., it just seems odd. It was a nice welcome from the heat and hustle and bustle of Cotonou. The owner, from India, was welcoming and genuinely happy we were there. Staff were great. Food was good but we expected it to be spicier. There is a patio outside. It was too hot to sit out there for us. We ordered samosa's, chicken vindaloo, 4 beers, large water rice and naan. Total about 13,000 cfa's.
Nice place down the street from Le Livingstone.
Favorite Dish: It was all good.Add to your Trip Planner
At the time of my visit the Mangos were just coming into season and the trees were full of almost ripe Mangos. Everywhere I looked the roads were lined with Mango trees, villages were full of Mango trees. If only I had been a couple of weeks later…….Related to:
Cassava is a root vegetable, similar to a yam that is grown and eaten widely in Africa. It has a high starch content but unfortunately no protein value, and forms around 30% of poorer people’s diets in West Africa as it can be easily grown and stored.
As well as being boiled and eaten as a vegetable it can be made into flour, called tapioca, or pounded into foufou. It can also be dried, enabling it to be stored for future use.
You can get Cassava served with vegetables and meat sauce in restaurants, it tastes a bit bland but no worse than our potatoes! It is more often found in the villages where people are poorer and use it as a staple food.Related to:
- Road Trip
Freshly Baked Bread
Most of the bread in Benin is the French style bread which is extremely popular everywhere and widely available.
On the route between Dassa Zoume and Natitingou we passed a small roadside village where women were baking fresh bread, to sell in the market. Our driver wanted to stop and buy some so we did.
It had just come out of the big oven and was cooling down so smelled and tasted delicious!
If you are driving this route keep your eyes open for the big clay oven by the side of the road and you may be lucky enough to arrive at baking time, which is mid morning.
We paid 100CFA (about 15 pence) for a French stick.Related to:
- Road Trip
Cashew Nuts grow wild in Benin on the trees along the roadside. My trip was in March and we had missed the main season but could still find a few cashews on the trees.
Benin produces a very small amount of the world’s cashew nut crop – about 3%, which is sent to India for processing.
You can buy fresh ones from roadside sellers.Related to:
- Road Trip
On our journey from Cotonou to the North of Benin we passed a few small roadside cafes where women were cooking food for passers by along the main road. We stopped at one of them so my driver and guide could get a meal but Alex didn’t think it would be a good idea for me to eat here in case it made me ill. So I waited by the road while they enjoyed a meal of pounded yams, goat curry and local cheese. Apparently it was very good!
You will pass a few of these places along the main roads between the big towns. Whether you decide to eat there I suppose is up to your own judgement. I think he would have let me eat there if I had insisted, but I decided it’s not worth risking being ill at the beginning of the trip. I would have liked to try the local cheese though! See picture 2.Related to:
- Road Trip
- Budget Travel
Anyone fancy Rat?
Agouti is the common name in Benin and nearby countries for a large grasscutter rat that is often eaten. These are widespread in the wild and live in woods, fields and farms throughout the country. When you travel to the North of Benin, shortly after leaving the coastal area it is common to see men standing by the roadside holding out an Agouti by its tail, indicating it is for sale to eat.
Agouti is very often on the menu in restaurants served with a spicy sauce and rice. The taste is very strong and gamey and the flesh is firm bordering on tough, nowhere as tender as the Guinea Fowl. It is worth giving it a try to satisfy curiosity but once was enough for me as the tender flesh of the Guinea Fowl is much nicer.
(Agouti is not the correct name for this animal, but that is what it is known as. Agouti's are only found in South America)Add to your Trip Planner
Costs of Food
I ate dinner in hotels and lunch in restaurants - all were better class places and I had excelent food. Some of the best places I ate were the Songhai centre in Porto Novo where all the food is grown on the plantation there so is mega-fresh, the Auberge Grand Popo, and the Hotel du Lac in Cotonou. I have to say I didn't eat a bad meal in the 8 days I was in Benin.
Costs in good hotels are about 2000 to 4000 CFA for dinner or lunch (€3 to €6) and similar in the restaurants.
Beer was around 1300 CFA (€2) and mineral water varied greatly from 400 CFA to 800 CFA (€0.6 to €1.2) The most I paid was a whopping 1500 CFA (€2) in the hotel du Port in Cotonou.
There is plenty of food available for sale, particularly fruit and vegetables and chickens. Fruit and most vegetables are reasonably priced but meat is expensive and it must be difficult for ordinary people to buy it. Prices of course depend on where you are - if you are near the coast or the lake fish is cheap.
In the voodoo ceremonies it is normally chickens that are sacrificed as these are the cheapest. Sometimes goats are used.
Here are some examples of costs -
Pineapple 100 CFA (€0.15)
Mangos 5 for 100 CFA (€0.15)
Bananas 300 CFA for a bunch of about 12 (€0.45)
A rabbit 3000 CFA (€4.5)
A sheep 40,000 to 70,000 CFA (€60 to €107)
A goat 40,000 to 70,000 CFA (€60 to €107)
A cow 70,000 CFA to 150,000 CFA (€107 to €230)
A chicken 1,000 to 3,000 CFA (€1.50 to €3)Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Arts and Culture
Lots of Fresh Food
The food in Benin is excellent. I was very surprised at the quality of the food in the hotels and restaurants and the quantity of fresh food available everywhere I travelled. The climate in the South, where my trip was mostly based, allows an abundance of fresh fruit and vegetable of all types to be grown – Mangos, Pineapples, Bananas, Carrots, Rice, Potatos, Beetroot, Cabbage………the list is endless.
The French have left a legacy of delicious freshly baked bread.
The many lakes, rivers and the coast means a plentiful supply of fresh fish, and the variety of fresh meat is amazing – I had pork, pigeon, lamb, chicken, beef. You can also get great pizzas and pasta dishes and even curry!
Mineral water and cola are widely available as well as fresh fruit juices. There is a good choice of imported and local beer. The one I preferred was the local Beninoise. The local gin is called Sodabe and is made from palm trees and Cassava. It costs 1200 CFA, less than 2€, and is said to be very strong - I didn't try it.
All the places I ate had a very high standard of cooking. Individual restaurant tips will be added to the pages of the places I visited soon.
This is one holiday where I did not lose weight!Related to:
- Historical Travel
- Arts and Culture
Le Teranga: Lovely food
I ate in a few restaurants but Le Teranga has to be one of the best. I've tried a lot of things on the menu & not had a bad meal yet! If in Benin you should make it a restaurant to eat at! They also have an internet cafe at the back of the resaurant, the food is priced well.
Favorite Dish: Brussetes de bouf (sp?) with plain rice was the best meal i had there also chicktouk (sp?) was really good aswell.Add to your Trip Planner
This lovely hotel sits on the edge of the Lagoon and my room overlooked it quite literally – the...more
Lovely and very clean stay at the Ibis. They remind you in every-way that they are only providing a...more
Bld De La Marina
Satisfaction: Very Good
Good for: Solo
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